'They rescued me': Pacific House prepares to open new homeless housing in Norwalk

Resident Michael Michaud outside Pacific House Friday, April 16, 2021, a new property with 12 units of housing for formerly homeless individuals in Norwalk, Conn.

Resident Michael Michaud outside Pacific House Friday, April 16, 2021, a new property with 12 units of housing for formerly homeless individuals in Norwalk, Conn.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

NORWALK — Two years ago, Mike Michaud didn’t know if he would have a safe place to sleep at night.

But Michaud, who is disabled, was able to find a new home with Pacific House, a Stamford-based nonprofit that provides assistance to people experiencing homelessness.

“They rescued me,” Michaud said. “They gave me a roof over my head.”

Michaud now lives at a Pacific House-owned property in South Norwalk where he is provided daily meals, offered an array of support services and is assisted by a team of case managers.

Later this spring, Michaud may be one of the first residents to move into Pacific House’s newest property — a recently renovated 12-unit building not far from the nonprofit’s existing building in South Norwalk.

Dubbed “Parkview North,” the 5,400-square-foot, two-story house is expected to open to a dozen residents in late May or early June, according to Pacific House Executive Director Rafael Pagan.

Executive Director Rafael Pagan speaks as Pacific House holds a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, April 16, 2021, for a new property with 12 units of housing for formerly homeless individuals in Norwalk, Conn.

Executive Director Rafael Pagan speaks as Pacific House holds a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, April 16, 2021, for a new property with 12 units of housing for formerly homeless individuals in Norwalk, Conn.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

“The way we measure success is to the extent that we keep people housed, and not going back into homelessness. That’s really the core of what’s driving our mission,” Pagan said at a ribbon cutting on Friday that featured several city and state officials, including Mayor Harry Rilling and state Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff.

The building, which was originally built in 1920 and was previously used as a halfway house, recently underwent more than $1 million in renovations. The bulk of the funds were provided by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority in the form of state tax credits.

The freshly painted property features a dozen single-occupancy rooms, four bathrooms, three sets of washers and dryers, a kitchen, a computer room and a first-floor gathering space. The building sits just a few dozen feet from a public park and a community center.

“We’re firm believers in developing housing that doesn’t look institutionalized,” Pagan said.

The completion of the home marks Pacific House’s 14th development in the last 10 years. The fast-growing nonprofit, which aims to help homeless individuals and those with special needs secure stable housing, manages 189 units of temporary shelter and permanent housing in Stamford and Norwalk.

“Parkview North reminds us that even in these dark times, good work continues to be done and there’s people out there who continue to look out for those who are most in need,” said Chris Tate, the chairperson of the Pacific House Board of Directors.

Michaud says he intends to stay with Pacific House for at least another year to save up enough money for an apartment of his own. He hopes to continue to live in Norwalk, a city he has grown fond of during his time with the nonprofit.

“I’ve had bad things happen in my life,” he said, “but being over here has really helped me.”